Blackberry was at the top of the game when it came to mobile technology a while back. They were Apple before Apple was Apple. It was every other mobile device in the world, and then there was the Blackberry. But the times changed and the rise of Android and iOS almost saw the demise of the brand. They remained quite and nonexistent until 2015 when they revealed to the world that they were launching their first Android powered handset, the Blackberry Priv. This device marked a new era for the company, and was followed by two devices that were both similar and wildly different, the DTEK 50 and DTEK 60. Sadly enough, it’s no little known fact that the company has made public its plans to drop out of manufacturing hardware and focusing its energy primarily on software, but could this have been avoided?
Back in its heyday, Blackberry was targeted to the power user, and this is the market that that they were targeting with the Priv. It brought all the bell and whistles: Snapdragon 808 with 3 GB’s of RAM, QHD AMOLED display and a large 3410 mAm battery. It seems that they checked a lot of the right boxes, but the problem is that ushering oneself into the premium flagship market is difficult. The big boys in the flagship market- Samsung, LG, Sony, Apple etc..- have been at it for years. Blackberry has also, but that was a completely different era in smartphone technology. Launching such a powerful device at such a high price wasn’t the best move for the company. Producing a more affordable handset as their first device would have been better. What they want most is to get as many devices into as many hands as possible, and targeting a less expensive would have done a better job at that. The main features that were going for the Priv were that nifty physical keyboard and their solid security capabilities. Housed in a less expensive package, this could have sold more. Some compromises would have had to take place of course, to the QHD display could have been knocked down to 1080p, and maybe made LCD. Maybe no front facing speaker. What’s important is that the two main features stay intact.
In Blackberry’s defense, no one could have foreseen what 2016 brought. I’ve heard on a few occasions that Blackberry decided to enter the game too late, but it could be the opposite. They could have been just half a year early. 2016 saw the coming of age for the flagship killer genre. Phones like the Axon 7, the Idol 4S, the Honor 8 and 5X and the Oneplus 3 put the sub $400 flagship smartphone on the map. Instead of launching a flagship back in 2015, Blackberry’s foray into the Android space could have been more welcome this year. Bringing the latest specs to the table – which is something that the Priv last year, with only a slight step down in the processor package- but in a sub $400 phone would have sat better with costumers. What Blackberry has in its favor, is the fact that people recognize the brand. It’s already made its way minds of the masses, the next step would have been releasing a device at a price that would have appealed to the masses.
Another way this could have been avoided is refinement. The Priv was a mixed bag through in through. The design was simple yet elegant. The back panel was a flimsy as a piece of paper and Blackberry’s implementation of Android had its bugs. Instead of taking the Priv and refining the formula, the started from scratch and brought us the DTEK series. That’d be like if Samsung launched the S6 and then gave us a completely different design with the S7. But they tweaked the design of the S6 and gave us a more refined phone with the S7. And they further refined it with the Note 7. The kinks in the Priv could have been ironed out, both in software and hardware, and we could have been given a more refined device.
Lastly, the huge shift in designs from the Priv to the DTEK 50/60 may have hurt the company a bit. As mentioned before, the design of the Priv could have been refined. Not only that, but sticking true to the design of the Priv could have put Blackberry on the path to establishing a unique design language; a design that, if you see it, you think “Blackberry.” And BAM!! there you have it, brand recognition. The name Blackberry is known by most, and that would have been the next step.
No company is impervious to missteps. When it comes down to it, no one truly knows how a device will sell, so the decisions that Blackberry made aren’t bad by any means. They could have been carried in different ways, and these different ways could have lead to a fate less tear jerking as this. While we wait for the new device from Blackberry to hit the market, those avid Blackberry fans among us will hope that it turns things around for the company.
What are your opinions? What do you think could have turned lead Blackberry back to the top again? Let me know in the comments below.